Morgan Goldman drop all investments

In what may be the defining moment of banking in America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs- the last of the two largest surviving banks in America decided to abandon all investments and become bank holding companies in order to remain in business.
If after the fall of Lehmann Brothers and the buy out of Merrill Lynch you thought that the financial crisis being faced by the American banks was over, here comes another bomb shell. The Federal Reserve in America granted permission to two of the largest banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to drop the ‘I’ word from their operations. The two banks will now return to more old fashioned style of banking. This change of status implies that both the banks will now come under the regulation of the Federal Reserve. And hence they will have to face the same regulations that other commercial banks face as opposed to the regulations that they had to face when they were under the Securities and Exchange Commission.
But the step taken by the two banks is being lauded all across the world for it was the safest option in such times of turmoil. The Americans are in the midst of a subprime mortgage crisis which started more than a year back and this is the crisis that swallowed the likes of Lehmann brothers as well as Merrill Lynch, though AIG was bailed out by the American government. The move will ensure that both the banks get to build up cash and deposits and even go forth and buy smaller banks. As an investment bank, the two had continually relied on borrowed money rather than just deposits but in the financial crisis that the country is facing right now, borrowing money was not all that easy. The move also means stricter regulations from the Federal Reserve something that the two banks may not be used to. Hence they will have a certain amount of capital and will also not be free to sell and buy securities as they used to when they had the status of an investment bank.
Meanwhile Morgan Stanley is in talks with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan’s largest bank to acquire a stake in it. It is expected that there will be an agreement signed that offers a stake of almost twenty percent of Morgan Stanley to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. The move was taken well by the Market as well as the shares of Morgan Stanley rose 3.5 percent.
Meanwhile, it is expected that Japan’s largest brokerage Nomura Holdings will be buying Lehman’s Asian assets whereas Britain’s largest bank Barclay’s will be purchasing Lehman brothers North American brokerage operations.
Meanwhile the mood on Wall street is still somber as these were two of the biggest names in the financial market not just in America but also in other parts of the world. The investments made by the two banks in the last two years were erroneous and now have had to pay by giving up their pride. Meanwhile the smaller investment banks that can wither the financial storm right now may be able to cope up with the crisis. But from the point of view of the two banks as well as the American economy, it was indeed a pleasant move to abandon all investments. The abanks will now be able to concentrate on orthodox retail commercial banking and should be able to build on it. Moreover in the financial turmoil being currently faced by the country, it will bring in stability and safety. The two major banks may have lost their pride but atleast are still standing to be able to recover it in the future.

Senior citizens in desperate need of jobs

India’s high tech city of Bangalore may have provided jobs to thousands of youngsters but almost ninety percent of the half a million population of senior citizens in Bangalore are looking for a job as they have no pension plans to take care of them.
Bangalore has become the tech hub of South India with most of the major IT companies having their offices here. It is a city where the young thrive, but another problem of large magnitudes is eating up the social fabric of the city. According to figures of Karnataka’s Department of Welfare of Disabled and Senior Citizens, Bangalore city has a total population of 5.28 million people. Of this entire population there are 565,668 elderly people in the city.
But the shocking fact is that eighty seven percent of the 565,668 elderly people have no pension plans to take care of them at the latter stages of their life. These senior citizens may have retired from their jobs some time ago but are facing a financial crisis with no income or pension plans. With continuing rise in inflation, it has become difficult for them to survive in a city like Bangalore. Hence these senior citizens are all looking for jobs from which they cans support themselves and their families. But in Bangalore jobs for senior citizens are not easy to find with the youth being preferred to them in almost all the jobs.
This is where the state government needs to take an initiative and try and provide jobs for the elderly. There are many Non government organizations working for the senior citizens but a bigger effort from the part of the government is the need of the hour.
Most of these senior citizens even after retiring from their respective jobs are physically as well as mentally fit to take up another job. But it is not easy to find one. They are all in desperate need of a job to empower them financially as their life savings are fast reducing.
This is a problem not limited to the city of Bangalore but senior citizens from all over the country face it. India is home to the highest population of youngsters in the world and in another 25 years would take over as the home to the highest population of senior citizens in the world. Right now there are almost eighty million people over the age of sixty all over India and again almost ninety percent of them are not covered under any pension or retirement plans.
Some of these elders do not have children to take care of them and they do need a job to be able to carry the monthly expenditures. On the other hand society has moved forward so briskly that many youngsters leave their parents and settle abroad and again their parents are left back without any income to fend for themselves. In certain cases, it is more a matter of financially empowering them and lead a life of dignity without having to ask anyone for money.
There can be several part time jobs that can be made available to senior citizens such as that of teachers, government officers, small scale industries and even the work from home jobs so that they can work as well as earn enough to support their family. Initiatives in this regard have been taken up by NGO’s like Nightingales Medical trust which has helped seventy two senior citizens get a job in the past four years. But with more than five lakh senior citizens still jobless and in dire need of an income, the effort will have to be a much bigger one. Atleast the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens bill, 2007, should be implemented soon. The bill if passes makes it legally necessary for children to provide maintenance to their parents. As a society itself we need to put ourselves in their shoes to imagine the trauma that they are going through and hence introduce senior citizen jobs to financially empower them.

Narayan Murthy comes out in support of the Tatas

After Mukesh Ambani, it is Infosys founder Narayan Murthy who has come out in support of the Tatas with the agitation at Singur still carrying forward. Narayan Murthy warned that agitations are likely to deter investors from investing in West Bengal.

The head corporates of India, the men who have written some of the greatest success stories in India are all coming forward in a combined effort to express their solidarity opposed to what is happening in Singur at the Tata Nano plant.

Narayana Murthy on Sunday went on to say that the gridlock in Singur over Tata’s Nano plant is likely to be a major hurdle in the growth of the Indian economy. Murthy went to add, “What has happened in Singur is unfortunate for West Bengal, for India and for all progressive Indians,”

Narayan Murthy has always been known to speak his mind over social and economic issues. Earlier during the Anti reservation stirs all over the country, Narayana murthy had come out in defense of the anti reservationalists by saying that, “India is perhaps the only country in the world where people fight to be called backward”. At this instance too, he has come out in support of the Tatas, for he feels that it will be a great blot to India’s growth if the Tata nano project in Singur is halted.

Narayan Murthy also believed that this event would result in a dearth of jobs for youngsters in the state of West Bengal and it will deter growth in the state. He also went on to say “This event will unleash fear and uncertainty in the minds of all investors — Indian and foreign — and is likely to be a stumbling block in the excellent GDP growth India has demonstrated in the last decade,”

“It is time that all well-intentioned Indians stand up and demand a peaceful, logical and constructive way of settling the issue of farmland in Singur and elsewhere in India,” he said.

Murthy’s statement comes just a few days after Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Ltd said, “A fear-psychosis is being created to slow-down certain projects of national importance”. Mukesh Ambani also believed that such steps will deter the economic growth of the country and will also deter foreign investors from coming and investing in India. Mukesh Ambani had also gone on to praise the Tata Nano projects citing it as one of the most innovative projects in the World and one that would go on to establish the position of India as a small car hub in the World market.

In the entire process, the biggest loser is sure to be the state and the people of West Bengal. At a point of time, a few decades back West Bengal was one of the most industrialized states in the country. But over the years due to the policies of the Left party, this state has not been able to attract a lot of investors and come in the forefront of industrialization.

Meanwhile, in Singur the agitations and the strike led by Mamta Banerjee continue and the employees and the staff of the Tata Nano project have aborted work in the plant due to the warnings that were received by them. Ratan Tata is contemplating whether it is safe for the employees and staff to be working in Singur and Ratan Tata may decide to pull out his workers and halt the project entirely in Singur if the agitations are to continue.

The Enemy Within

PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh had described the Maoists guerillas or Naxalites as the biggest threat to internal security in 2006 and last year in December, he advocated the need to set up a special force to eliminate “the virus”. The Naxalites are spreading like wildfire in the country. A decade ago they were active only in four states but now 15 Indian states are affected by Maoist violence. The worst affected states are West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh, in fact is the ‘garh’ (headquarters) of the Naxalites. They control major areas of the state and even run a parallel government where public courts are arranged and judgments are pronounced.

NaxaliteNaxalites have changed since the days of Charu Majumdar (leader of the Naxal movement) and the Naxalbari Movement. The movement that was born because of growing disparities, inequalities, discrimination and underdevelopment has deviated very far from the ideology of Majumdar. Naxalites claim to thrive on the support of the people from underdeveloped rural pockets of the country but ironically it has grown more violent, targeting innocent villagers, CRPF jawans, among others. The figures quoted by Hindustan Times show that in 2007, 214 policemen were killed in the fight against Naxalites, while 133 Naxalite casualties were recorded. It is also believed that Naxalites may have joined hands with terror outfits to carry out attacks in India. The Naxalites also command a force comprising of 20,000 men. Naxalites oppose any development activities in areas in their stronghold. Critics say that given the millions they collect through extortion, they could have easily changed the face of rural India.

The growth of Naxalites is also attributed to policies of various governments, be it BJP or Congress, none have taken the side of the common people. India continues to neglect its countryside and farmers. The lack of basic needs leads to frustration among people and they join the violence. No concrete step has been taken to check farmer suicides taking place in India. If one observes closely, the areas from where the most suicides are reported are strong holds of Naxalites. Andhra Pradesh, Vidarbha, Orissa are prime examples.

The armed struggle by Naxalites cannot provide a long lasting solution and some serious steps are needed to crush the Naxalites before they become a menace to society and security. But at the same time we need to ensure that gap between ‘Bharat’ (rural) and ‘India’ (urban) is bridged. A nation cannot prosper if a majority of its population is deprived.

The Retail Rush has just begun

An industry that has caught the eye of the common man at almost every turning on the road is the Retail Industry, A young thriving population and booming consumer confidence has triggered the expansion of this sector and brought about the Retail Rush.

 The Indian economy is booming and the boom has triggered a new array of opportunities for the students as well. Post economic reforms India has become the hub of foreign direct investments. International rating agency Standard and Poors (S & P) recently raised India’s sovereign rating from speculative to Investment grade.


The crucial sectors of the economy are on a self propelling growth trajectory. The IT industry, telecommunication industry and many other industries have seen unprecedented growth during the last couple of years. But one industry that has caught the eye of the common man at almost every turning on the road is the booming Retail Industry.


A young thriving population and zooming consumer confidence has triggered the expansion of the retail sector. Till a few years back, the Indian retail market was either dominated by the apparel brand stores or the regional retail chains. But, with the entry of large corporate houses, the landscape of the organised retailing in the country has changed completely.


Despite the protests of the local ‘Bania’ the mighty ‘W’ is finally here. Wal-Mart will be setting malls in India in association with Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Group. Other international big players like Carrefour, Tesco and Auchan have also shown interest in this industry.


Indian retail industry is expected to grow at a compounded growth rate of 11% and will be a $450 billion industry by 2010. Real estate biggies have all announced huge plans to unroll malls and other retail formats across the country. The figures are mind-boggling, to say the least. DLF will be spending Rs 1600 crore on developing malls over the next four years.


Reliance Retail is planning to splurge Rs 2500 crore for opening different formats in the next three years, and the Kishore Biyani-owned Future Group, India’s largest retailer group, will be investing Rs 3600 crore in 100 stores in 30 cities, increasing its retail space from 3.5 million square feet to 30 million sq feet by 2010. Future Group also plans to have 100 Big Bazaars up and running even before Wal-mart arrives in India. Nice welcome that will be for the American giant.


The reasons for this growth are many. A booming economy coupled with a growing affluent middle class has significantly increased the purchasing powers of people. Lifestyle habits have shifted from austerity to complete self-indulgence. There is greater emphasis on personal care items and luxury goods. 

Urbanisation has lead to densely packed cities and towns which has led to the retail giants rolling out stores after stores in almost all A and B class cities in the country. Additionally, saturation of retail business in the European and other Asian markets has prompted foreign retailers to set shop in India. The dream run of the Retail Industry has thus opened vast employment opportunities for the youngsters in India.


Management graduates are in demand for Inventory Management, Brand Management and Supply Chain Management. Finance professionals are needed for accounting, cost control and analytical functions. The Retail industry is a customer oriented industry and thus the skills of HR Managers are required for training, motivation and man power management.


A large number of professionals are also needed in the marketing and sales department. Facilities management and project management require the expertise of technical professionals.


Visual Merchandising is another important aspect of retailing and creates opportunities for designers, decorators and people with an artistic background. Skilled manpower is also required for security and safety management. Moreover from an ecological point of view, waste and energy management professionals are also in demand. Thus, the retail industry has opened various avenues for graduates all across the country.


B-Schools in India too are offering tailor made courses for Retailing. The K.J. Somaiya institute of Management and the Welingkar Institute from Mumbai, MICA Ahmedabad and the Chennai School of Business are a few of the B-Schools which are offering retail friendly courses.


The organized retail industry has a work force of 1.2 million people. The retailers association of India estimates that two million people will be required in the next two years. That’s almost twice the number of people that the industry currently employs.


Even in its current size, the industry is facing a man power shortage or rather a woman power shortage. The retail industry is one of the few industries where the women are recruited in almost the same proportion as the men.


Women form only 6% of the India’s organized workplace. The retail industry hopes to better that. It has opened a floodgate of opportunities for females as they are required in large numbers for front office functions as well as sales promotion jobs including the BP0s.


In fact the industry is offering jobs to women ranging from one hour to five hours a day as per their convenience. Maternity leaves and other benefits are also being offered to the women.


The transformation that has taken place here is quite phenomenal. The evolution of retail in India is much faster than that in the US. Growth of organised retail is likely to have a positive impact not only on end consumers, but also on employment generation, supply chain efficiency, agricultural practices, sourcing from India, etc. 

The retail boom has brought about a revolution. India cannot skip it, it must accelerate through it. Of course, there are challenges ahead, like rentals, manpower, supply-chain and back-end organization.


The current state of the Indian retail sector is still in infancy as compared to the rest of the world. Modernisation of this sector represents a significant opportunity for us. Indian retailing is clearly at a tipping point.

Organised retail, besides benefiting the consumers by way of competitive product pricing and quality service, is introducing the Indian consumer to a shopping experience like never before.

There is everything for everyone, Shopping, food, entertainment and all of it under one roof. The Indian retail scenario is poised for a quantum leap. The retail industry is being looked upon as not just a harbinger of limitless opportunities for the youngsters but also as a potent catalyst in the growth of the Indian economy.

Young Engineers worried as Economy Slowdowns

THE UPSWING of the Indian economy is experiencing a slowdown and this trend might continue into the next financial year. The Indian economic boom is mainly due to the IT sector which has spearheaded it and created thousands jobs of every year. The stock markets worldwide are also down and companies from all the sectors have reported reduction in sales and profit margins.

The sensex indicates that there will be more industries that will struggle in the fourth quarter of the current financial year. But the telecom firms will beat this trend along with manufacturing companies such as BHEL and L&T.

Economy slowdownThe rising rupee, which has appreciated by 13 per cent over the past year against the US dollar, has made exports difficult, while a recession in the US market is threatening Indian software exporters who have their main clients in the US. The IT sector was always at a loss as the rupee gained in strength in the International market. The repercussion can now be felt with TCS asking its 500 employees to resign voluntarily. IT majors pass on 45 per cent of their profit margins as salary to their employees and with decrease in profit the annual increment has also gone down. The yearly increment has been reduced to seven to eight per cent against the usual 15 per cent. There will be less recruitment of freshers as well than in 2007. In 2007, the top five IT companies hired over 50,000 employees. The companies now will make use of the ‘bench’.

This trend has landed many fresh engineers in trouble. Final year engineering students who have been recruited in IT companies are worried these days. They are all asking whether their appointment letters will be cancelled. And when they will get their joining letters? Will there be any cut down in pay packages offered? The non-recruited ones will find it tough to get lucrative jobs they were hoping for earlier. Analysts say that the slowdown was expected and it is just a transition period. One need not be too worried as this recession in US may be over in a couple of years. The Indian economy has shown lots of resilience in the past and has many multifarious activities going on which provides stability against external influences. Patience is the key to this slowdown.

Mayawati is at it again!

The Leopard they say never changes its spots. Mayawati’s suspension of four officials in the Sultanpur district has raised eyebrows and received flak from the Congress Party as well as the UP Governer who has asked her to justify the suspension.

May, 2007. Mayawati had just been sworn in as the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister for the fourth time when she began her term in trademark Mayawati style. 109 officers were transferred and three got the axe. The officers who were transferred were IPS officers, including IGs, DIGs, district police chiefs (SPs/SSPs). As Mayawati ushered in a new set of officials and ordered inquiries against numerous officials. This overhaul of the system was criticized by many of her detractors, but Mayawati maimtained that she was doing it for the right reasons that of dereliction of duty.

Well, Mayawati is back at it again. She recently suspended four officials for praising Rahul Gandhi. This was a shockin move for many. And the Congress too has not taken this lying down as they have questioned Mayawati’s act of sking officers all around the state to have collected funds on Mayawati’s birthday just a few days back.

The officers to have been suspended are the Faizabab divisional commissioner Venkateshwarlu and the Sanjay Kumar who is the district magistrate of the Sultanpur district. Both of these officers were IAS officers and were suspended for lauding the Gandhi family in a book about the history of the Sultanpur District.The local chief development and another officer from the Sultanpur district were also fired from their jobs.

The book under question had been released in September last year and no one in the Uttar Pradesh government seemed to have any problem with it till the news of the suspension broke out. The Sultanpur district falls under the purview of the Amethi constituency which is represented by Rahul Gandhi. Even late Rajiv Gandhi had represented this constituency.

AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh told reporters, ”If writing a fact is a crime, then the officers have committed a crime,” and went on to add that there was no mention of any political party, but the work done by the Gandhis.

A day after the sacking of the four senior bureaucrats, Governor T.V. Rajeshwar wrote to Mayawati on Friday asking her to explain the reasons for the sudden move. Mayawati it seems is busy preparing a reply to the Governer justifying the suspension of these officials.

The scenario in Uttar Pradesh has definitely turned hostile and is bound to get aggravated after this suspension. Is Mayawati insecure of the Congress party doing well in UP? Or does she believe that Rahul Gandhi can be the lucky mascot to bring back Congress to power in Uttat Pradesh. Whatever, it maybe the message sent out by Mayawati is loud and clear and all the officials across the state will have to watch what they say or write to stay away from the ire of the BSP Supremo.

Bangalore : ‘BYTE’-ing the dust ? – Part2

Part-1 of this series : Surviving the BYTE, recounted how Bangalore transformed from a city with calm and undeniable charm, to a commotion ridden beast. With both the locals and the non-locals complicit to it’s downfall, Bangalore seemed to be headed for doom. What with the backbone of Bangalore — IT, threatening to pull out and the IT Czars publicly threatening to desert the city unless they were satiated. Is Bangalore BYTE-ing the dust ? Not yet. Not even in the conceivable future.

Much has changed since 2004-05, when the IT Czars threatened a pullout. Not only did they come back to the city, they now have major expansion plans as well. The cultural tension between the locals and the non-locals, still exists ; but people have found a way around it. Bad infrastructure and politics, is endured — albeit grudgingly. Was there some magic pill for all the ill ? Yes, money. Apparently there is nothing like the sound of money. Despite the problems, the city has seen an un-abated flow of foreign equity investments. With it, the IT giants realized they cannot afford to not have a major presence in Bangalore. The jobs are still abundant, the local economy is booming, malls and restaurants are sprouting everywhere. Despite the glaring issues, Bangalore is working — very well at that, and the doomsdayish predictions from 2004-05 have abated and the death knells halted.

Of late, there are other new developments among locals — a new wave of outspoken, at times brash youngsters, who, affected by the changes they saw, are vociferous about their presence. In these youngsters, there is a palpable sense of linguistic pride and Kannada usage. Changes are elsewhere too : the once defunct Kannada movies is seeing a golden run — probably not seen since the glorious days of Puttanna Kanagal ; Kannada TV serials have iconic following ; art expos like ‘chitra santhe‘ have sprouted ; FM stations have a mixture of offerings, Kannada included ; when pushed back by non-Kannadigas, the local youth is fighting back — was not the case 5-6 years ago. This is seen as a much needed antidote to the city that has endured the BYTE’ing. Among the locals : veterans, youngsters and everyone in between included, seem to approve of this quasi-cultural awakening.

The Kannada awakening, culminating with outspoken demeanor : Orkut groups like ‘Gaanchali Bidu Kannada Maatadu‘ have created a sense of realization in the non-Kannadiga populace. They seem to get the need to blend in. Many cities would cringe with a 70% non-local population and Bangalore is no different. Bangalore has always had the reputation of being a cosmopolitan city ; it still is, else, it would not have been hospitable to the massive influx (and we are far from seeing the end of it).

Dwelling on the cultural/linguistic rift, why does it exist ? When threatened by a loss of identity in their own backyard, local populace views non-locals as outsiders thus forcing the local culture to stand up and show spine. That’s what is happening in Bangalore. Increased and vocal dis approvals, many rightly so, as in the case of Railways conniving to stack it’s offices in Karnataka with Biharis, and some, not rightly so, like reservations in software sector for locals (quite rightly rejected by the Czars), have increased. There is a definitive shift in the status-quo.

When a culture opens it’s doors, voluntarily or by the compulsions of economics, the onus is on the emigres to acknowledge the gesture, blend in and be a part of it’s success. Most countries mandate that. Why should it be any different when it is between states of India, where the cultures-language-cuisine is so different as in say, two European countries ? When you decide to come live in a different culture, is it too much to expect that you blend in and not stick out like a sore thumb ? If you do stick out, and more so as a group unto itself and hence a clenched fist rather — not just a sore thumb, with scant disregard for the host’s feelings, it is bound to stress the cultural fabric, no matter how venerable or how evolved the culture is. You see these fissures in Karnataka-TN or Maharashtra-Gujrat or USA-Mexico. Hence the quote, when in Rome, be a Roman..

There is no doubt, the non-locals ought to do more in Bangalore : blend in, learn the basics of the new culture, treat this as their home and not a pit-stop/alien land. Some signs of that happening are evident. We Kannadigas can do better as well. The Kannada awakening was much needed and is good. But we need to control the tone of it. I would much rather say ‘Jamba bidu Kannada Maatadu'(discard the false pride, learn Kannada) than a ‘Gaanchali Bidu Kannada Maatadu'(discard the arrogance, learn Kannada — though seemingly innocuous, gaanchali is oft used with prefixes that makes it potent, hence the disdain..). We are better than that.

Yes, there are changes, some for the better, some for the worse. But change is the only thing that’s constant. I believe most people in our country are fair and, are cognizant of the fact that, they, have a mutual stake in the success of one another. Given the above inevitability, there is an underlying dormant sense of camaraderie that needs tapped. Once done, it furthers individual development while contributing to the growth of our nation. We Bangaloreans, locals and non-locals included, have been the beacons of change in Software, Hardware and Bio-tech arenas. We can, again, be the change that unfurls the melting pot of India — Bangalore, and, be proud of it. All of this, without losing our identity or individuality – The whole being greater than the sum of parts.

Bangalore : Surviving the ‘BYTE’ – Part1

With an undeniable laid back charm, not so long ago, Bangalore was your quaint old south Indian city — a pensioner’s paradise and a garden city. Misty mornings heralded the start of beautiful, often sunny days. Laden with rich aroma of filter coffee, crisp morning air soon displaced this misty blur. The tune of suprabhata would fill the neighborhoods from some one’s old transistor. Close on the heels of milk and newspaper delivery, the ubiquitous darshinis(eateries) readied their fare for the morning commuters. As the Suprabhatas turned to news, a steady stream of traffic would fill the roads and the eateries.Good Morning Bangalore.

Passing the baton, the short-lived ‘peak hour’ bustle, would lead into a warm mid morning calm. As the postman did his rounds, retirees perused the newspapers on their patios, soaking in the morning’s tender sun. Ladies bartered sugar, coffee and gossip standing across the compound walls in the shade of the omnipresent coconut trees. Selling his interesting wares, a hawker or two would often lead to an emergency session of the street Parliament — cartels formed, deals negotiated, decisions made and the news of a good buy reaching the other end of the street in seconds ! Life was easy. The whistle of the pressure cooker, often the spoiler of such fun, ushered the lunch hour. Fresh cooked anna, saaru, palya would fill the noon air. Bon-Appetite. Lunch made way for a calmer afternoon good till the kids came running home.

Evenings were never dull either : kids playing at street corners ; teenagers chatting away endlessly at the front gates ; walks on Sampige or Margosa roads ; idyllic meetings of seniors in Jayanagar-4th block complex; savoring panipuriat Ramakrishna Ashram or Seshadripuram ; the street market bustle of Malleshwaram 8th cross or Gandhi Bazaar, evenings had their share of simplistic fun before a staple of TV and dinner. There was much to be happy about in this predictable, chaos free simplicity.

Though a generalization, Bangaloreans have always loved simplicity. They take great pride in their simple happiness pursuits. Simple, polite, family oriented are some qualities that are a commonplace in Karnataka as the Bisibele Bhath, Kodubale and Akki Rotti. Do not let the unassuming simplicity fool you, for quite a few successful people hail from Bangalore — after all, the software boom did not happen by itself.

Even in the most famous of it’s sons, Kannadigas have a sense of obeisance to an inner discipline and simplicity. To me, a prime example is Anil Kumble : while playing, he is one of the more grittier and determined cricketers our country has seen (remember his fractured jaw strapped into place by a thick bandage, an injured Kumble, returned to claim Lara’s wicket in the Windies tour of 2002 ), while off the field, he is possibly the nicest, most unassuming person you will meet. Kannadigas bring that attitude and charm to what they do.

The non-stoic stance, the welcoming nature, beautiful weather, abundance of scientific brainpower and the cost arbitrage to outsource led to a steady flow of traffic — of software companies. MNCs and software companies, people who wanted to be in these companies, their vehicles and their baggage in tow(emotional & cultural), made a beeline for Bangalore — cumulatively changing it for ever. This influx led to the software wave, crowning Bangalore as the numero-uno of the Indian software hubs — ‘The Silicon Valley of India’. This gold rush had not gone unnoticed and there was a huge stream of people trickling into Bangalore from various parts of India. Local businesses and non-local job aspirants alike benefited from this growth and wealth. Seemed like a win-win situation — till it got out of hand. With the crown and the wealth, came woes : uncontainained traffic, soaring real estate prices, failing infrastructure and, last but not the least — a melange of people.

Per reliable estimates, only 30 per cent of Bangalore’s residents speak the local language, Kannada, today. The last decade of IT boom that put Bangalore on the global map, also made it a city dominated by non-localites. There is, of course, no justification for saying that any region of India be inhabited by members of one linguistic community only, in case of Bangalore, the Kannadigas(and all it’s flavors). But often the reality is too twisted to be framed to such idealistic frameworks.

Very many of the new entrants did not do much to help the situation either. For most parts, they chose to live in their own groups, often not blending with the locals or picking up basics of Kannada ; thanks in part to a lack of need for it and, in part due to a misguided sense of linguistic pride — picking up Kannada tantamounting to reduced allegiance to their mother tongue. When in a new city, there is hardly any bad in seeking people who hail from your hometown — it is almost second nature. The problem started when these groups became vocal and abrasive to the extent that it made the locals feel unwelcome in their localities.

Early 90s set the stage for the future things to come when the discontentment poured into the streets during the Cauveri water disputes . The water dispute was the last straw and a reason. Violence marred the city. Chennai returning the favor, just added to the fire. The tension is very much alive even today and flows in the moment water levels in Cauveri recedes.

Like I have stated, many a times : ‘Politicians are like diapers — almost always full of crap ; if not, it’s just a matter of time’. Among these politicians, Karnataka is blessed with the worst of their ilk. Add to this, the woes of traffic congestion, rising real estate prices, bridges and flyovers built where one was not needed and eventually ending up impeding the traffic flow (after construction dragging on for years), IT Czars threatening to walk out on the city and the state. It was chaos.


Was it just chaos or, was it the sound of Bangalore’s death knell ? Is Bangalore BYTE’ing the dust? Read on in part-2 ..


Do we care for our disabled?

It was once said that the moral test of a Society lies in how it treats the sick, the needy and the handicapped. On 3rd December, the United Nations International Day for the Disabled Persons, let us as a society appraise ourselves, Have we really done enough for these people? Continue reading Do we care for our disabled?